AHA Exfoliation: a Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum Review

Not too long ago I was lucky to win the entire Drunk Elephant Skincare Line on one of their Instagram giveaways. I’d been interested in trying the brand because some of their formulations seemed very good, but their price point is a bit too high for my normal budget. But I’m very glad to be able to try them out and figure out if any products are worth repurchasing

Wow! A huge thank you to @drunkelephantskincare for the giveaway ? I’ve wanted to try your vitamin C serum for a long long time and now that I’ve seen the ingredients on everything else I’m super excited to work drunk elephant products into my skincare! Also low pH bar soap ? I’m all aboard the hype train now. Thank you so so much!! I’ve done an unboxing on snapchat too if anyone wants a closer look (peepingpompom) ??????? . . . #thankyou #drunkelephant #giveaway #crueltyfree #parabenfree #fragrancefree #phthalatefree #slsfree #green #greenbeauty #naturalcosmetic #natural #naturalskincare #instablogging #instabeautyblogging #beautyblogger #beautyblogging #blogger #blog #instaskincare #skincare #스킨 #스킨케어 #코스매틱 #뷰티 #sunscreen #cleanser #cream #lotion #serum

A photo posted by 에이미 (@peepingpomeranian) on

And so the very first item I feel that I’ve used enough to review is the Glycolic Night Serum, but first a bit of brand background

Drunk Elephant the Brand

Definitely a Green Beauty Brand, I don’t use many since I default to my Korean heritage for Skincare, but if it’s a US Beauty product I usually steer towards green beauty since it’s got that marketing swag and usually comes with some wonderfully tedius packaging and over the top marketing. I do appreciate the green beauty industry for at least taking the time to talk about different ingredients they feature; this isn’t true of all ‘green’ beauty brands, but the ones I try usually do. The following is taken from their website

Natural vs. Clinical

D.E.’s mission is to deliver clinically-effective, clean skincare formulated with both cutting-edge synthetic and natural ingredients; and without the ubiquitous toxins, sensitizers and irritants, such as the disruptive essential oils, that block the pathway to healthy skin. We pay close attention to pH and toxicity levels, as well as formulating with efficacious percentages of active ingredients. Our goal is to teach the consumer that “natural” doesn’t automatically mean good and that every ingredient should directly and only benefit the health of our skin or the safety of the formulation. We shift the focus off of the consumer’s “sensitive” skin and on to the insensitive marketing ingredients that are responsible for the majority of our skin problems.

Unfortunately, today’s regulations allow companies in both categories to use harmful, toxic ingredients. And while Drunk Elephant aims for its products to be as natural as possible, it is far more important that the ingredients in them be effective and safe for your delicate dermas. Plenty of natural ingredients are oh-so-irritating, so we consistently formulate our cleansers, serums and oils with soothing, low-hazard ingredients — regardless of their natural or synthetic status.

Our product development team obsessively self-regulates and reviews every single precious ingredient to make sure it is the safest, most efficacious and most synergistic with the entire product line, while staying focused on internal and external health. So where does that leave Drunk Elephant? In a category of its own.

Less is More

Paring down your routine to a few clean, selective products is our plan for a bare-faced, radiant you. Our goal is to improve whatever it is you’ve felt you needed to hide and allow your skin to breathe again.

We want to reset your skin back to its healthy state. When you use Drunk Elephant, your skin glows in response.

Break the Cycle

We believe that you leave your skin vulnerable through the overuse of harsh exfoliates, chemical peels, expensive laser treatments, Botox abuse, layered foundations and powders, and chemically-laden beauty creams. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional, beneficial beauty splurge here and there (when appropriate), but it can be a vicious cycle that is hard to stop.

Our lines are balanced and optimized to work with the physiological processes of the skin to make those types of indulgences less necessary, less often. With the help of Drunk Elephant, you will finally be able to make a clean break™.

No Fragrance

Drunk Elephant products are fragrance-free and do not smell like anything other than what they are.

Other skincare lines use “natural alternatives” to scent their products. Things like essential oil blends, citrus peel extracts, and limonene may sound pretty and innocent, but they are known to cause allergic sensitivities that are cumulative and imperceptible. The irony here? They’re often found in products marketed towards those with sensitive skin.

After carefully balancing the best ingredients available, we don’t have to add anything to mask their natural scents. When you smell our products, you will likely detect nothing but a glycerin base with slight hints of Marula oil, Zinc Oxide, Thermal Mud, Fruit Enzymes and Vitamins. It’s refreshing and reassuring. But don’t trust us, just trust your nose.

It all doesn’t sound to bad, except I cringe when I hear the word toxin used. I would much rather have companies be more specific on which ingredients are ‘toxins’ and why they are being avoided then then blanketing the subject with the terms ‘toxic’ or even worse ‘chemicals’. I also recall Drunk elephant posting a lot on their Instagram stories their belief that everyone has the same skin type.  I felt like that went on and on, but it seems to have died out. For which I am glad as I sit here naturally dry as the desert while quite a few of my friends glisten with their natural oil production. And with that lets jump in.

Dog Inspection

Dog Inspection

My skin type

  • Dry Skin
  • Non- Sensitive (literally have not reacted to hundreds of products over the course of my lifetime)
  • Concerns
    • a few pronounced sebaceous filaments on the nose
    • The occasional pimple
    • inhibiting wrinkle formation
    • preventing cancer
    • making sure I have enough chicken jerky for my dogs

 

What it is supposed to do

This is an AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) serum, good for exfoliating the skin chemically rather than physically (which would be something like using a scrub). There are other reasons to use AHA’s in terms of reducing the appearance of scarring, fine lines, hyperpigmentation etc, but for me I just use them as an exfoliant. The AHA’s they’re using are Glycolic Acid, Citric Acid and Lactic Acid. I did notice they included a BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) another exfoliating acid which is oil soluble rather than water soluble like the aforementioned, which is Salicylic Acid. Now they do not give the separate percentages for their acids, but do list the serum’s overall percentage as 12%.

I’ve included the Drunk Elephant description below

What it is:

A 12% AHA/BHA blend for night that refines and resurfaces skin by gently dissolving the glue that holds dead skin cells to the surface and increasing collagen production. Formulated with a “dream team” of acids designed to reveal a smoother and more radiant complexion, T.L.C. Framboos™ enhances the performance of other products by clearing the way for maximum absorption.

What it is formulated to do:

Glycolic T.L.C. Framboos™ is a refreshing, hydrating gel that resurfaces dull, congested skin by gently lifting dead skin cells away, revealing an even-toned and radiant complexion. Fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and other signs of aging will be greatly diminished, along with excess oiliness, acne and the appearance of pores. The results include greater clarity, smoother texture and increased collagen formation. Our powerful T.L.C. Framboos™ blend of glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric and salicylic acids and Raspberry Extract, sinks in easily and delivers the most effective and precise level of chemical exfoliation without harsh side effects. Horse Chestnut and White Tea help to calm, brighten and protect. Go from a lifeless complexion to an absolutely luminous one, practically overnight! Suitable for all skin types. The pH level of T.L.C. Framboos™ is 3.8-4.0.

How to use it?

The Drunk Elephant suggested use is to use in the evening, apply to a clean, dry face, neck, chest and backs of hands, avoiding the eye area. allow to dry and follow with the Drunk elephant virgin marula oil.

How I used it

My traditional use of AHA’s has been to cleanse, then use a low pH toner (usually between a pH of 4-5) and apply the AHA generally with my fingertips, but if it’s a watery product I will us a cotton pad. Depending on how much exfoliation I desire

  • For lighter exfoliating
    • I will not wait for the product to completely dry and I will usually proceed to the next serum/essence/ampoule steps of my routine within about 5 mins
  • For medium/normal exfoliating
    • I will wait for the product to completely dry
    • then I will usually wait to proceed with the rest of my skincare after an additional 5-10 mins after the dry point
    • So the total wait time after application is about 10-20 minutes
  • For high/stronger exfoliating
    • I will apply the product and wait for it to dry and will not proceed with the next product for a total of 20-30 mins wait time.

How often I used it

  • AHA serums I like to use once a week at night, generally Sunday/Monday. I find that it helps resurface my skin a little faster and helps prevent too many separate dry patches but will rather allow me to physically exfoliate a few days later for a second round of resurfacing.
  • For this serum I tested it about 6 times (so far) using it once a week, twice a week, and in conjunction with the marula facial oil from the same line

What is in it?

It wouldn’t be a Peepingpomeranian review if I didn’t do a quick CosDNA check

Ingredient Function Acne Irritant Safety
Water

‧Solvent
1
Glycolic Acid

‧Exfoliator
‧Whitening
4
Butylene Glycol

‧Solvent
‧Moisturizer
1 0
1
Glycerin

‧Solvent
‧Moisturizer
0 0
2
Salicylic Acid

‧Exfoliator
‧Whitening
4
Lactic Acid

‧Astringent
‧Whitening
4
Citric Acid

‧pH Adjusters
2
Vitis Vinifera Juice Extract

‧Antioxidant
1
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice

Opuntia Ficus-indica Extract

Aesculus Hippocastanum Seed Extract

1
Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract

‧Moisturizer
‧Antioxidant
‧Emollient
‧Astringent
‧Sunscreen
2
Rubus Idaeus Fruit Extract

‧Exfoliator
‧Astringent
1
Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract

1
Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil

‧Moisturizer
1
Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer

‧Moisturizer
1
Allantoin

‧Anti-inflammatory
‧Anti-allergic
0 0
1
Hydroxyethylcellulose

‧Viscosity Control
1
Galactoarabinan

1
Propanediol

‧Solvent
‧Viscosity Control
1
Disodium EDTA

1
Xanthan Gum

‧Viscosity Control
1
Hexylene Glycol

‧Surfactant
‧Solvent
‧Emulsifier
2 1
1
Phenoxyethanol

‧Preservative
4
Caprylyl Glycol

‧Moisturizer
‧Emollient
1
Ethylhexylglycerin

‧Moisturizer
1
Sodium Hydroxide

‧pH Adjusters
3
Buddleja Davidii Meristem Cell Culture no matched results

What I also find interesting is that Drunk Elephant always lists ingredients they exclude

What it is formulated without:

Animal Fats/Oils/Musks, Benzalkonium Chloride, Benzophenone, Bisphenol A (BPA), Butoxyethanol, BHA, BHT, Chemical Sunscreens, Coal Tar Dyes, -Cones, Detergent, Essential Oils, Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA), Formaldehyde, Fragrance, Hydroquinone, Liquid Petrolatum, Methyl Cellosolve, Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Mercury, Mercury Compounds, Mineral Oil, Oxybenzone, Parabens, Paraffin Oil, Phthalates, Polyethylene Glycol (PEGs), Resorcinol, Retinyl Palmitate, Retinol, Siloxanes, Sulfates, Thimerosal, Toluene, Triclosan, Triclocarban

What’s it like?

  • Its a clear gel texture
  • It has a very very faint sweet fruity scent, but it is an un-fragranced product
  • It dries very tacky on me
    • As soon as I layer an essence over it, it will re-hydrate and get sticky again
  • It does tingle/itch a little bit on the skin
  • I woke up to very very smooth skin every time after using this

 

What about their oil recommendation?

I didn’t forget, they sent me that too so why not test as recommended.

  • I tried this two ways
    • Method 1: use this oil on the same day I used the AHA serum, but with the cream step of my routine
      • This was nice, I liked that it’s similar in texture to argan/olive oil and applies very well
      • No noticeable difference to efficacy of AHA
    • Method 2: use this oil on the same day I use the AHA serum, but right after the AHA dries (this is the suggested use)
      • This was kinda annoying, since I use an essence, serum, ampoule, lotion and cream all after
      • putting an oil in that soon doesn’t allow the other products the absorb and I didn’t notice any benefit, in fact my skin was a little bit drier
More dog inspections

More dog inspections

Final Thoughts?

  • Pros
    • This is a very effective chemical exfoliant, so far it’s the strongest I’ve used and I like its efficacy
    • It’s cruelty free, at the right pH and even though it’s green beauty it still has a preservative which is a bonus
    • the packaging is ideal for protecting the ingredients inside as it is opaque and air tight
    • it has a nice slightly sweet scent
  • Cons
    • This serum retails for $90 USD. That comes out to 3 dollars a ml, where the last AHA I reviewed was only $0.40 USD per ml when I bought it.
    • The price is too high, the most I’ve for an AHA is 25 and it is a 100ml bottle
    • The texture becomes quite sticky on my face, so I’ve had to apply it a little at a time, but since I only use it once a week it’s not a major issue

In conclusion, if money is no object then I’d say give this a try if you’re in the market for an AHA serum that is pretty strong. Otherwise I’d recommend the Mizon AHA 8% peeling serum since it has a similar gel consistency but leaves no tackiness and also doesn’t really have a strong scent (you can read about it here).




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